Salads greens by zone. In the warmer zones of the southern U.S.A. many are enjoying fresh salad greens from their gardens. But in the cooler northern zones it is now time to plant your salad gardens.
Think out of the box, consider planting a few salad greens the you ‘normally’ do not plant. Many so called bitter greens as well as herbs add a lot of color and flavor to make a common salad a special treat.
Lettuce comes in many sizes, shapes and colors. Try planting at least three different lettuce types.
* Butterhead lettuce: Is a type of head lettuce, the leaves of Boston and bibb lettuces are soft. And as this variety’s name implies, the texture of a butter lettuce is indeed smooth like butter. Bibb is the more expensive of the two and is usually sold in a plastic container to protect the delicate leaves.
* Romaine lettuce: Also known as Cos lettuce. Is large leafy lettuce is stiffer than most; a thick center rib gives it a real crunch. The rib also gives this lettuce a slight bitter taste. This is the lettuce originally used when the Caesar salad was created.
* Mâche lettuce: Also known as Field salad, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field lettuce, fetticus. Sometimes sold with its soil still attached, this salad green imparts a mild and slightly sweet flavor to a salad. Because of the small size of the leaves, trying to create a salad with a base of mâhe can be expensive. Its leaves are also very delicate and will bruise easily, so handle with care.
* Oakleaf: Red oak leaf, green oak leaf. The shape of this looseleaf lettuce’s leaves are similar to that of the oak tree, thus, its name. From a distance, one could mistake it for red leaf and green leaf lettuce, but a closer look will reveal differences in shape and texture: Oakleafs are a little shorter and more squat, and the tops of their leaves have a softer texture than their red leaf and green leaf counterparts. This delicate, tender lettuce acts a great bed for food and won’t compete with other flavors.
* Looseleaf lettuce: Also known as Leaf lettuce. Green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce. They have a mild flavor and are very pliable, despite the crunchy stem. Their uneven ruffled surfaces add layers of texture to salads. Because the leaves are so large, it’s best to tear them up into bite size pieces.
Arugula Also know as Rocket, Italian cress, Mediterranean rocket, rugola, rugula, roquette, rucola. Possibly the most well known variety of salad green, arugula forms the basis of many a salad. Originating from the Mediterranean, this green tastes more peppery than bitter and is especially associated with Italian dishes like pesto.
Endive Also known as Belgian endive, French endive, witloof, witloof chicory, Belgium chicory. The unique oval shape, soft satiny texture, and slight bitterness, endive’s a great addition to any salad. It’s scooplike shape makes for edible servers, perfect for small appetizers like little spoons.
Radicchio Also known as Chioggia, red chicory, red leaf chicory, red Italian chicory. You can find this deep red purple vegetable sold either as a compact round head or shaped like its relative, endive. The bright coloring makes it stand out. When cooked, the red purple hue turns brown and what was once bitter becomes sweet.
Escarole Also known as Batavian endive, scarole, broad leaved endive. Related to frisée, this mildly bitter leafy green is large and crisp. Escarole is often used in soups and paired with beans, reflecting its popularity in Italian cuisine.
Baby beet – radish and mustard greens When the leaves of the beet top, mustard and radish are immature, they are tender and slightly spicy. Beets purplish red veins are visually striking and can dress up any salad. When wilted, the veins become brighter in color and a little bit sweeter.
Kale Leaves are broad and ruffled, ranging from deep green to a bluish purple. Taste is very mild, with cabbage undertones. Kale is also often served cooked, ‘don’t over cook your greens turning them into mush!
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